We all know that recycling cuts down on the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. But how many of us really understand how it reduces carbon emissions?

Understanding this process helps us to play our part in fighting the climate crisis and being kinder to the planet. So here’s a quick rundown on how recycling reduces carbon emissions and helps to protect our environment.

What happens when we create brand-new products?

Whenever new products and packaging are created, resources are taken from forests, oil reserves and mines. The energy used generates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — the largest of which is carbon dioxide. These new products need transport which also generates carbon, as well as other harmful gases. Over 40% of our GHG emissions come from creating, transporting and getting rid of items that we use.

What’s wrong with carbon emissions?

The increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is heating up our planet and causing global warming. These rising temperatures are melting polar ice caps and glaciers, causing sea levels to rise and gradually displacing people living in low areas. Natural weather systems are becoming more extreme, with more droughts, floods and hurricanes.

We are already seeing more cases of extreme heat in the world. For example, temperatures have risen to a terrifying 50C in Canada this summer, causing hundreds of deaths, as well as melting power lines, buckling roads and starting wildfires.

So how does recycling reduce carbon emissions?

If we recycle, it means we use less energy producing and moving new goods. This reduces carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions. Every time we remember to reduce, re-use, repair and recycle, we are helping to save our planet.

Even something as simple as using recycled printer paper can make a difference. Recycled paper saves trees which absorb greenhouse gases and help to combat climate change —we don’t want to chop trees down! If one business with 1000 employees recycles its office paper for a year, it can reduce its GHG emissions by 80 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide – that’s as effective as taking 50 cars off the road for a year.

How can First Mile help?

Here at First Mile, our vision is to eradicate waste by making it possible to recycle everything. We provide convenient recycling collections to businesses to make that as easy as possible. Some commercial waste cannot be recycled, but at First Mile we ensure that non-recyclables are used to power the energy grid. No commercial waste goes to landfill.

Because some materials can’t be recycled easily, First Mile is also supporting businesses to find inventive ways to set up their own recycling schemes.

We need to remind ourselves that recycling means we’re saving the Earth and not recycling means we are gradually destroying our planet. It’s as simple as that. We may think that our individual actions don’t matter, but we all need to play our part in saving the planet for future generations.